3 has been turning off 2G roaming across the country over the last few months. Unfortunately, this has resulted in many people losing coverage indoors where 3G doesn’t work so well and even dropping calls. 3 claims that it is only turning off 2G coverage in areas where its 3G coverage is strong, but we suspect their judgement isn’t foolproof.
When 3 launched in 2003, it was the only network that specialised in 3G. It also allowed customers to “roam” onto a partner 2G network when they lose coverage from 3’s 3G network. It started by using O2 between March 2003 and January 2007 before switching to Orange who is its current 2G partner. The ability to roam onto a 2G network means that instead of your phone losing 3G connectivity and giving no network coverage, it would be able to switch to another provider’s 2G network allowing you to carry on calling and texting. This partner 2G network would also provide data network access although internet access would, of course, have to be at slow 2G speeds.
3 have not given customers and details of the locations where they have turned off 2G coverage and they also have not given an indication of the proposed time frame for a UK-wide switch-off. However, if your phone is giving you frequent “no network available” messages it’s more than likely that 2G roaming has been disabled for your area.
3 claim that 2G roaming is no longer necessary due to the multitude of 3G masts they now operate. However, a more likely explanation is the economic one. By using less of Orange’s 2G network, 3 would save a huge amount of money as it’s relatively expensive for them to provide.
However, we’re very disappointed about the 2G coverage being switched off. We feel it’s still very important for 3 to offer this service. Even in areas with strong 3G coverage, there are various reasons why a 3G signal isn’t available and cutting off 2G leaves these affected customers high and dry. The 2G roaming service helps to ensure continuity of service and ensures that calls can still be made even when a 3G signal is lost.
If you’re upset about 3 turning off 2G coverage and you are a contract customer, you should be able to cancel your contract as you been negatively affected by a change in a core service. If you are a Pay Monthly customer still bound by the terms of your original agreement, you don’t need to pay off your entire contract to terminate your contract early. As the service is no longer reliable in some areas it is not fit for purpose and if you call 3 customer services on 333 (0843 737 3333 from a landline), you should be able to leave their contracts early without a cancellation charge due to the 2G switch-off.